Military


DD-75 Wickes

The three-year program authorized the construction of fifty destroyers, twenty of them the first year, as noted above. In the design of these, further improvements were added, the chief one being in speed, which was raised to thirty-five knots an hour. The 1916 boats, like those of 1915, were 310 feet long, but their displacement was nearly 1,200 tons. With some slight changes, this was the design for all the destroyers laid down in the war program adopted later.

Known as the four-stacker destroyer, 110 Wickes class destroyers were commimssioned 1918-21. These were first laid down in March 1917 and keels were laid through December 1918, the approximate end of World War One. Many of these destroyers would be pressed into service in the next war, either loaned to Britain under lend lease or used as high speed destroyer transports (APDs).

The later classes, 1915 to 1918, have a continuous flush main deck from stem to stern, but with considerable sheer ; the bow, while less conspicuously elevated than in the earlier classes, having decidedly more freeboard than the stern. The change from the high and cut away forecastle to the flush deck has produced great improvement in seaworthiness, habitability, and all around efficiency. In the flush-deck type, the reluctance to turn into the wind still existed, but in a much less marked degree ; while the tendency towards excessive leeway, which is characteristic of all destroyers because of their necessarily shallow draft and the large area which they expose to the wind, is somewhat increased.

Destroyers of the 35-knot type had a large after dead-wood, which resulted in greater steadiness of sea route but produces an excessively large turning circle, the tactical diameter being as great as one thousand yards with rudder angle of twenty degrees.

The later classes, 1915 to 1918, had a continuous flush main deck from stem to stern, but with considerable sheer ; the bow, while less conspicuously elevated than in the earlier classes, having decidedly more freeboard than the stern. The change from the high and cut away forecastle to the flush deck produced great improvement in seaworthiness, habitability, and all around efficiency. In the flush-deck type, the reluctance to turn into the wind still exists, but in a much less marked degree ; while the tendency towards excessive leeway, which is characteristic of all destroyers because of their necessarily shallow draft and the large area which they expose to the wind, is somewhat increased.

Prior to the World War, New York Shipbuilding Corporation had constructed for the United States Navy nine torpedo boat destroyers, of three different classes, and a destroyer tender, or "mother ship," the Melville. The performance of these vessels had established the reputation of the yard for this class of ship construction, and paved the way for a much more extensive destroyer-building program to meet war demands.

War construction proper of destroyers began before the declaration of war against Germany. On March 4, 1917, the President approved an act of Congress authorizing the immediate construction of fifteen of the fifty destroyers provided for in the three-year program (these in addition to the twenty already under construction). The act also carried an emergency fund of $115,000,000 which the President might spend for still additional destroyers, the usefulness of which in combating the submarine had been demonstrated to the world by the British Navy. The contracts for the fifteen were all placed before April 6; and under the provisions of the emergency fund the Bureau of Construction and Repair proceeded to place orders for seventy-six more. All these contracts were in force before the middle of August, 1917, at which time the Navy therefore had 111 destroyers under construction. These, added to the fifty in commission and the thirty-three obsolete destroyers and torpedo boats, would give the Navy nearly two hundred destroyers and destroyer-type vessels with which to fight submarines.

A few months after the entrance of the United States into the war, New York Ship, which was then rapidly completing the battleship Idaho, received instructions to suspend work on this huge fighting unit unit to concentrate on the huilding of ten torpedo boat destroyers. America had learned quickly that the destroyer was the best U-boat fighter and the most efficient convoy for transports.

A few weeks later a supplementary order for twenty more destroyers was received. When the yard answered that its greatly expanded capacity was already congested with previous Navy and Shipping Board orders, the Navy Department authorized New York Ship to begin at once the construction of a separate destroyer-building unit of ten ways with appropriate shops and outfitting basin.

Into destroyer design go two sets of forces which are almost mutually exclusive; on the one hand there is the restriction of size and weight; on the other hand the importance of speed and offensive power. The conciliation of these opposing forces in the production of a successful destroyer called for the highest skill and the most exacting workmanship on the part of the shipbuilder.

Eight of the first ten of the New York Ship war-time destroyers were built on ways already in service; the other two, and the next twenty of the slightly larger DD-186 Clemson type, were constructed in the new destroyer yard which had been put into operation in record time. As these destroyers were completed they were rushed into a round of gruelling service-thorough test of the upstanding character of their construction. It was on the basis of performances such as those made by the destroyers built at this yard, that the Allied navies soon learned that the American destroyer could be depended upon to patrol the stormy waters around the British Isles, and to make its rendezvous with a convoy five hundred miles out in any kind of weather, averaging two-thirds of its time on active duty away from its base.



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